As I had mentioned possibly doing in a previous post, I did indeed take the plunge and spent 24 hours without my cell phone, internet, Facebook, e-reader, TV, or any other of my usual electronic distractions. At midnight Friday night/Saturday morning, I went dark. I shut down my computers, my iPad, and my cellphone. Right away, I noticed the silence more than anything else. I always have some kind of noise in the background, either music or a television show. Instead, I was surrounded by the quiet. The next thing I noticed was that I could not recall the date and I didn’t have a calendar anywhere in the house. I finally was able to remember, and I had to get a piece of paper to work the rest of the month backwards. Instead of my usual bedtime routine, which consists of putting in a DVD and falling asleep to the tv, or playing some music on my iPad and falling asleep to that, I grabbed my Bible and did some reading, something I don’t do as often as I should. It helped me relax and sleep quite well. Then came the easiest six hours of the day – I fell asleep. I woke up and realized I wasn’t sure what time it was. I use my iPad as an alarm clock, and my cellphone has been my watch. I had to grab my wristwatch, which I haven’t worn for months, yet was still accurate, in order to keep track of the time. And when I was ready to head out, I had to physically look through my CDs in order to find music for the car. I had come to depend on my e-toys for everything and just taken for granted I had everything I needed or wanted right at my fingertips.
I drove out to Orlando, met up with a friend, and headed out to Disney with him. We got to enjoy the park for about an hour before the rain began. We headed out and spent several hours at a Chick-fil-a, just talking, although we were interrupted a LOT by his cell phone. Normally, I wouldn’t have even noticed it, because I would be just as busy with my phone. But, not having mine made me more aware of his. And not only his, but also those of other people around us.
Afterwards, we headed to his house. I hung out a little longer, and then I headed back to Lakeland. On a whim, I decided to drive out to Lake Hollingsworth. I parked my car and walked around the lake, which took almost an hour. It was a very nice, quiet walk, and very exhausting as well. Then I headed home.
By the time I got home, it was a bit after eight. I stretched out on my couch with the book I’d started re-reading that morning, “The Colorado Kid”, by Stephen King. Not too long after, I started feeling tired. (Ten PM! On a Saturday night!) I took my book and lay down on my bed, waiting patiently for midnight. Next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and it was 2:13 am! Twenty-six hours after I had shut them down, I turned on my computers and rejoined the world of the connected.
Some people have asked me what the whole point of this experiment was. Was it a life-altering experience? Sadly, no. I am online and attached to my electronic gadgets just as much as before. But, the point of it was to get me out of the box, which I accomplished. I have been very comfortable in my distractions and have come to look at my phone almost like a security blanket, and walking around without that blanket was very uncomfortable. It made me aware of the dependence I have on these things, and the lack of dependence I have on the important things in life – friends, family, God. And acknowledging the issue is the first step to doing something about it.
Will I do this again? Maybe. While I’m attending online classes, it’s not possible, but maybe during my Christmas break, and maybe more often once I’m done with school at the end of January. In the meantime, I will be doing the blackouts on a smaller scale, such as the last hour of the night, where I can spend the time with God without interruption. All in all, as difficult and uncomfortable as this was, I’m glad I did it.